As American tech workers were being laid off and forced to train their foreign replacements brought in on H-1B visas, Senator Tim Kaine co-sponsored a bill that would allow for an unlimited number of foreign workers to take U.S. jobs and drive down wages for American workers.
In 2013, Kaine co-sponsored the Immigration Innovation Act—known as I-Squared—which would have raised the cap on the controversial H-1B visa program from 85,000 to up to 300,000. The bill would also have given an unlimited number of green cards to graduates with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) warned that this type of H-1B expanding legislation would “destroy [the] U.S. high-tech workforce.”
“The primary, practical function of the H-1B program is to outsource American high-tech jobs. Do the bill’s supporters really think that’s the direction American immigration policy should go?” IEEE-USA government relations director, Russ Harrison, wrote in a 2015 statement.
As Rutgers’ Hal Salzman has documented the U.S. currently has a surplus– not a shortage– of American STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) workers. “U.S. colleges produce twice the number of STEM graduates annually as find jobs in those fields,” Salzman writes. The surplus of tech labor means IT workers have not seen real wage growth since the Clinton administration. Indeed, many of the companies lobbying for more H-1B visas, such as Microsoft, are laying off thousands of their own American workers.
Kaine’s support for this anti-American worker legislation could add to the frustrations of Bernie Sanders supporters, who argue that the Clinton-Kaine ticket represents corporate America and special interest donors at the expense of American workers.
Indeed, Kaine’s position on H-1Bs is the exact opposite of Sanders’ stated position on the issue.
For instance, at the same time that “Kaine co-sponsored a bill that would ‘destroy’ the U.S. High Tech Workforce… Sanders co-sponsored a bill that would have stamped out abuse in the program,” said Howard University Professor Ron Hira.
Computer World’s Patrick Thibodeau has reported that Hillary Clinton similarly stands opposed to Sanders on this issue, opting instead to side with Clinton Foundation allies and corporate donors:
Hillary Clinton may be more aligned with Rubio and Bush than she is with Sanders on the H-1B issue. While serving as a U.S. senator representing New York, Clinton traveled to Buffalo in 2003 to mark the opening of an office of IT services provider Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). That was 12 years ago, but the H-1B issue was very much a subject of controversy by then. TCS is one of the largest users of the H-1B visa. The Clinton links to the IT offshore outsourcing industry have continued since then through the work of the Clinton Foundation, where Tata has been participating in its STEM education efforts. In 2011, former President Bill Clinton was paid $260,000 by IT services provider HCL to deliver a speech.
While Clinton and Kaine’s policies would drive down wages for American workers and exacerbate H-1B job theft, Sanders claimed he wanted to reform the program by “substantially” raising prevailing wages for H-1Bs.
As Thibodeau reported, “An increase in prevailing wages is seen by critics of the H-1B program as a way to discourage businesses from using foreign labor to replace U.S. workers. ‘If there is a true labor shortage, employers must offer higher, not lower, wages,’ said Sanders, in his platform.”
In a 2015 interview with Vox, Sanders articulated his opposition to open borders policies in rhetoric that seemed to echo Donald Trump’s call to put American workers first.
“Open borders… would make everybody in America poorer,” Sanders said. “You’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that.”
Sanders explained that open borders proponents want to “bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs. You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids? I think from a moral responsibility we’ve got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don’t do that by making people in this country even poorer.”
While Sanders says he opposes open borders and importing foreign labor to displace American workers, Sanders abandoned those principles when he voted for the 2013 Gang of Eight bill, which would have doubled the number of foreign workers brought in to compete with American workers.
Open borders opponents have argued that Sanders’ vote for the 2013 immigration expansion bill revealed his true nature of surrenderism, which went unrealized by his supporters until he surrendered to corporatist Hillary Clinton three years later.
“While Sanders appeared to understand that flooding the labor market would hurt American workers, he ended up caving on the massive open borders immigration bill, and now obviously he has given in to Hillary Clinton’s open borders immigration plan,” said NumbersUSA Director of Government Relations, Rosemary Jenks.
As Donald Trump explained, “Bernie Sanders has abandoned his supporters by endorsing pro-war pro-TPP pro-Wall Street Crooked Hillary Clinton,” Trump tweeted. “Bernie Sanders endorsing Crooked Hillary Clinton is like Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs.”
“To all the Bernie voters who want to stop bad trade deals & global special interests, we welcome you with open arms. People first,” Trump added.